The timeless song ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ was written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1976 for the musical Evita (1978). The song was originally sung by Julie Covington, an English singer and actress, who played the role of Eva Perón, in the musical Evita. The award-winning musical was later adapted into a 1996 American musical-historical film with Madonna starring Evita.
Eva Duarte Perón (1919-1952), called Evita, was the second wife of Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón (1895-1974). She was one of the most powerful women in Argentine history who helped enact a number of reforms and policies to benefit of ordinary Argentinians. She supported legislation improving working conditions and wages for some of Argentina’s poorest workers. She was also instrumental in passing a law that gave women the right to vote in 1947. She was one of Argentina’s most beloved, but also controversial political figures. The song is a tribute to her life and legacy. It was from the balconies of the Casa Rosada that President Juan Perón and his wife addressed the people of Argentina during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The lyrics of the song are emotional, moving and thought-provoking because they are from the point of view of Eva Perón, who is speaking to the people of Argentina after she has passed away. The words ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina, the truth is I never left you, all through my wild days, my mad existence, I kept my promise, don’t keep your distance’ symbolise that even in death, Eva Perón remains with the people of Argentina.
Eva Perón fought to improve the rights of workers and the living conditions of the poor. She tried to initiate a long-awaited change in Argentina. The song acknowledges this in the words: ‘I had to let it happen, I had to change, couldn’t stay all my life down at heel, looking out of the window, staying out of the sun, so I chose freedom, running around trying everything new, but nothing impressed me at all, I never expected it to.’
The song quickly gained enormous popularity in the world and became a hit single when it was released in 1977. Since then, it has been sung by numerous artists, including Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer, Madonna, Patti Ann LuPone, Laura Branigan and Nicole Scherzinger. However, Julie Covington’s original version remains the most famous because of the amazing and beautiful voice of the singer.
The song was also translated into other languages. Katja Ebstein sang the German version of the song entitled ‘Wein nicht um mich, Argentinien’ (1977). In turn, Pétula Clark sang the French version of the song entitled ‘La chanson d’Évita’ (1977).
Photo: The Argentine Government House (Casa Rosada) with famous balcony © Lars Curfs